clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Why the New Orleans Saints Could Win it All, Part VI: Defensive Line

All of the defense's problems start with the defensive line.

Brian Kersey/Getty Images

To view previous Parts, click below:

Part I: Offensive Line

Part II: Running Backs

Part III: Tight Ends

Part IV: Wide Receivers

Part V: Quarterback


The entire New Orleans Saints defense in 2015 was pretty terrible (understatement of the year, right there...), but most of the problems started with the play of the defensive line.

The New Orleans Saints had a problem getting to the opposing team's Quarterback last year. With only 31 team sacks, the Saints defensive unit tied for 6th worst in the NFL. Of those 31 sacks, 10 came from Defensive End Cameron Jordan. Another 15 came from non-defensive linemen. That means defensive linemen not named Cameron Jordan combined for only 6 sacks.

Sacks were only one part of the problem. The Saints defensive line was terrible against the run. Football Outsiders ranks all defensive lines based on adjusted yards given up to opposing Running Backs by the Defensive Line. Ranking 31st, 2nd from the bottom, were your New Orleans Saints.

This offseason, the Saints made it a point to address the defensive side of the ball. With their first pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Saints selected Louisville Defensive Tackle Sheldon Rankins. Veteran Defensive Tackle Nick Fairley was also brought into New Orleans on a one-year deal. After addressing holes at the Linebacker position (coming next, Part VII), the Saints have discussed moving former Lineback Hau'oli Kikaha to a pass-rushing specialist on Defensive End.

So here's why they're better in 2016:

Well, they can't get much worse, can they?

Too many times during a game would you see Cameron Jordan bring pressure around the edge, only for the opposing Quarterback to step into a clean pocket with all the time in the world to make a throw. Enter Sheldon Rankins. Rankins presents a big body in the interior of the defensive line to help stuff runs, take on double-teams, and close holes in the front of the pocket.

Remember those 15 sacks from non-defensive linemen in 2015? Four of those came from Hau'oli Kikaha. With Kikaha able to pin his ears back and soley focus on attacking the QB, Jordan will have another threatening force that opposing offensive lines will have to worry about.

Other than Rankins, the Saints have two other Defensive Tackles who will look to have strong 2016s in a contract year: Nick Fairley and John Jenkins. With that trio of Defensive Tackles plus Jordan and Kikaha, the Saints defensive line should be able to rush the quarterback, put pressure on throws, and stuff the run, all of which will make the play of the rest of the defensive improve.

The defensive line should be one of the greatest areas of improvement from the year before, because again: they can't get much worse, can they?